How YouTube Is Getting Much Better For Selling Products

Chris CrumeCommerce

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YouTube is about to get tremendously better for ecommerce thanks to new shopping ads the company announced at IAB Mixx, which will launch this fall. The offering builds on other shopping-related features the company has announced in recent months, but opens up a great deal more opportunity for businesses to get their products in front of video viewers all over the enormously popular video site/app.

Do you see YouTube as a way to help you increase your sales? Do you think new features will help? Share your thoughts in the comments.

Cards For Conversions

Earlier this year, YouTube launched Cards, enabling businesses to share product information directly in their own videos. This was an evolution of YouTube's annotations feature aimed at helping businesses get some conversions. Video creators can use cards to tell viewers about other videos, merchandise, playlists, websites, etc.

They can be displayed anytime throughout the video, and they work on both desktop and mobile devices. When a video has a card, it shows a "teaser," at the designated time for a few seconds, and the card pops out when it's clicked. Throughout the rest of the video, viewers see an icon appear when they hover over the player (desktop) or when the player controls are showing (mobile). It can be clicked at anytime to display the card.

You can see a video with the merchandise card in action here:

The cards are non-intrusive, so they shouldn’t be too annoying to users. If you click on the one in the video above, you can see how the feature can lead to conversions from people who were interested enough to watch the video in the first place. When clicked, it leads to a landing page that opens in a new tab while the video pauses.

TrueView for Shopping

Cards were a great step in the right direction for businesses looking to use videos to help sell their products, but a couple months later, Google took things a step further, extending its popular product listing ads (PLAs) to YouTube with TrueView for Shopping. This is an ad format that lets businesses run product ads with related videos.

The company had already been encouraging marketers to create more "how to" videos, and these are the type of videos Google seems to have created TrueView for Shopping ads for - those that show consumers how to do things that they may need to buy a specific product for.

In May, Google released a report saying that how-to searches had seen 70% growth year-over-year with over a hundred million hours of this content having already been watched in North America in 2015. Such searches, it said, were on the rise across all age groups, but millennials were especially likely to search YouTube for how-to videos with 67% of them saying they can find a YouTube video to match anything they want to learn.

"Whether it’s watching a product review or learning how to bake a soufflé, we look to video in countless moments throughout the day to help us get things done,” Google said when it announced TrueView for Shopping. “We call these micro-moments – when we reflexively turn to our devices to learn more, make a decision, or purchase a product."

The company went on to say that it introduced the feature to connect the dots between the moment a person watches a video and the moment they decide to make a purchase.

The ads are integrated with Google Merchant Center, so you can connect campaigns with a Merchant Center feed to dynamically add products and customize ads through contextual and audience signals such as geography and demographic information.

New Shopping Ads For YouTube

Now, Google is taking things even further with new Shopping ads for YouTube, which will let advertisers show a click-to-buy ad within partner videos. It's kind of a cross between the aforementioned cards and TrueView for Shopping features. It's like cards because they appear in the actual videos, but it's like TrueView for Shopping in that they will appear on videos beyond your own. Like Shopping ads on Google, advertisers only pay when a user clicks on the ad.

"We’ve kept the format similar to Cards and TrueView for shopping, so users can easily recognize and click on the 'i' icon at the top right of a video to view the Shopping ads," explains Diya Jolly, Director, Video Ads Product Management. "Shopping ads on YouTube are built off of your existing product feed in Merchant Center. They will enter an auction similar to Shopping ads on Google search and are selected based on a variety of contextual signals."

"Shopping ads on YouTube provide an entirely new revenue stream for creators, providing another way to monetize product-focused videos," adds Jolly. "They also provide a more interactive experience for viewers, letting them shop directly from videos."

It's unclear exactly when you'll be able to start using the new shopping ads, but Google says it will roll the feature out in the coming months.

More New Ad capabilities for YouTube

In addition to all of this, Google made a few other ad-related announcements for YouTube. For one, they have a new TrueView for app promotion format that reaches users as they're exploring content on YouTube.

These will appear in the recently launched YouTube Gaming app in addition to regular YouTube. The company says it will bring the ability to bid by cost per install in the coming months.

The company also announced that its Brand Lift solution will now take YouTube searches into account so businesses will be able to see if their ads are driving searches for organic video content related to their brand.

The other day, Google announced a new ad targeting product called Customer Match, which lets advertisers target people whose email addresses they already have. This works across YouTube in addition to Google Search and Gmail.

Do you expect to take advantage of YouTube's new ecommerce-geared features? Discuss.

Images via Google

Chris Crum
Chris Crum has been a part of the WebProNews team and the iEntry Network of B2B Publications since 2003. Follow Chris on Twitter, on StumbleUpon, on Pinterest and/or on Google: +Chris Crum.